Israeli Firefighter Recounts Battling Fierce Flames in Haifa: It Was Like a Movie
“It was like a movie,” an Israeli firefighter who battled the blazes that swept through the northern city of Haifa on Thursday told The Algemeiner as he recounted his experiences a day later during a rare moment of rest.
“Every moment we were called to help in another place,” Yair Cohen — of the Carmiel fire station in the Galilee region — said. “There were so many apartments on fire and crazy traffic as people were escaping with their kids and whatever else they could take.”
Cohen is one of the hundreds of firefighters who have worked day and night over the past week in an effort to contain the dozens of wildfires that have popped up across northern and central Israel.
“We’re doing our best to save forests, homes, property and pets,” he said. “It’s really sad to think about all the people who’ve lost all their possessions. Yesterday, we saw one woman who was too scared to go see what had happened to her house. It’s heart-wrenching.”
On Thursday, Cohen was dispatched to Haifa’s Romema neighborhood, the scene of some of the worst fires that broke out in Israel’s third-largest city.
“We were at one home where the roof began to collapse and we were trying to put the fire out from both the outside and the inside,” he said. “It’s been a tough and tiring week. It’s nuts, I can’t comprehend it.”
US supertanker among 29 aircraft battling blazes across Israel
The newly arrived US supertanker, considered the largest firefighting aircraft in the world, was among 29 planes operating across Israel to battle blazes on Saturday, the fifth day of a wave of massive nationwide fires, according to authorities.Firefighters batlle Nataf fire
The supertanker launched its first operation in the Jerusalem hills Saturday where fires have been raging since Tuesday and where residents were evacuated on Friday. On Saturday afternoon, residents of the Jerusalem hills village of Nataf were allowed to return to assess the damage. At least a dozen homes were consumed by the fire in the area, as was the famed Nataf restaurant Rama’s Kitchen.
The main highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Route 1, was shut briefly on Saturday afternoon between the Sha’ar Hagai and Horesh interchanges, as the massive plane went into action.
Earlier, six firefighting teams battled a fresh blaze in the Druze village of Daliyat al-Karmel, near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, bringing the fire under control.
Hundreds have been injured, dozens of homes burned, tens of thousands were evacuated in the raging fires across Israel in the past few days. Watch the brave firefighters as they battle against the rising flames in the village of Nataf, located on the Judean hills in central Israel.
Dozens of Cyprus firefighters arrive; Israel thanks Palestinian counterparts
Sixty-nine firefighters from Cyprus arrived in Israel on Saturday morning, to bolster their Israeli counterparts stretched to their limit by the hundreds of fires that have burned across the country for five days.Palestinian Firefighters return to West Bank, after assisting Israel in extinguishing fires
Cyprus, along with Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Turkey and Russia, has already sent planes to help with the efforts to battle the blazes, some of which have caused severe damage to communities and cities.
The head of the Palestinian Authority fire service, Yousef Nasser, was also due in Israel on Saturday morning, in a sign of appreciation for the assistance his firefighters provided.
Israeli crews were joined Thursday night by eight PA fire trucks and 40 firefighters, who joined the battle to contain massive blazes in Haifa and at Sha’ar Hagai on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Palestinian firefighters from Ramallah also swung into action in the early hours of Saturday to help douse the flames at the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where dozens of houses were damaged or destroyed.
Eight firetrucks and approximately 40 Palestinian firefighters returned to the West Bank on Saturday, after assisting Israel in extinguishing fires in Haifa and the foothills of Jerusalem.In phone call, Netanyahu thanks Abbas for PA help battling nationwide blazes
A Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) spokesperson said that four PA teams were sent to Haifa and four others to the Jerusalem area on Thursday evening, where they worked alongside Israeli firefighters.
The spokesperson added that the eight teams came together to fight fires in the Jerusalem area Friday evening and rescued a 30-year-old Jewish man, who fell into a well, on Saturday morning.
PA Civil Defense spokesman Nael Azzh told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening that the PA firefighters had a highly professional experience in Israel. “Firefighters around the world have a professional, shared language—the officer with the highest rank leads the mission regardless of citizenship,” Azzh stated. “We worked according to this language.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday evening to thank him for the Palestinians’ help in battling nationwide fires that have raged since Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee and destroying or damaging hundreds of homes.Officials: Dozens arrested thus far for arson, incitement
In the call, Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for the eight fire trucks and 40 firefighters provided by the Palestinian Authority to fight the fires, alongside help from other countries including Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Russia and the United States which provided a supertanker, the largest firefighting aircraft in the world.
The head of the Palestinian Authority fire service, Yousef Nasser, was in Israel on Saturday, in a sign of appreciation for the assistance his firefighters provided. He toured the Fire Service command centers at Neve Ilan, near Jerusalem and in Rishon Lezion, as well as visited his firefighters working alongside their Israeli counterparts.
In the call to Abbas, the prime minister also noted his appreciation for the on-the-ground cooperation between Jews and Arabs who opened their homes for those affected by the fires, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Israeli security forces have arrested more than 40 people suspected of either arson or encouraging others to commit arson in recent days, as dozens of wildfires have swept through the country, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and forcing tens of thousands to flee, officials said Saturday evening.Palestinians rescue Israeli settler who fell into pit 6 days ago
Police have arrested and questioned more than 30 people since Tuesday, but as of Saturday night only 23 remained in custody, a spokesperson said.
The police refused to comment on how many of those arrested were suspected of arson and how many were suspected of incitement.
The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service, meanwhile, have arrested more than 10 Palestinians, an army spokesperson said.
The detainees include three people arrested overnight Friday-Saturday in a car near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the army said. Full and empty canisters of gasoline, rags, gloves and lighters were found in the vehicle.
Another suspect detained Saturday was identified by an official from the Israel Parks and Nature Authority as the person who set fire to brush in Begin National Park near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
An Israeli man was rescued on Saturday in the West Bank by members of the Palestinian Civil Defense branch from a pit he had been stuck in for six days.Palestinian leaders mourn loss of ‘comrade’ Castro
According to Channel 10, the man — a resident of the settlement of Avnei Hefetz in the northern West Bank — reportedly descended into the pit on Sunday to seclude himself but couldn’t get back out after his rope ripped.
He was found on Saturday, dazed and dehydrated.
In a clip from the rescue, the man climbs out of the pit using a ladder and is helped out by the Palestinians who encourage him in Hebrew to keep calm and “hold tight.”
After inquiring if he’s injured and providing water, a member of the team then went back into the pit to retrieve the man’s wallet which had fallen in.
He was transferred to Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and was being treated by Magen David Adom paramedics.
Palestinian leaders on Saturday mourned the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, hailing the iconic revolutionary president as a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause and a comrade in the struggle against “Zionist imperialism.”Douglas Murray: UK: Two Systems of Justice
Castro, who died on Friday in Havana at the age of 90, was remembered by various Palestinian Authority groups for his close relationship with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and early support of “armed resistance” against Israel.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular, socialist Palestinian terrorist group, was among the first organizations to mourn Castro’s death in a statement that praised the late Cuban leader for “consistently [standing] with the oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation with imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism.”
“Cuba stood with the Palestinian people and their liberation movement in all facets of international struggle, building a revolutionary alliance for collective movement against imperialism, colonialism and its particular manifestation in Palestine, Zionism,” a statement posted on the PFLP website on Saturday said. “Zionism has been a key weapon of racist oppression, a fact recognized by Fidel Castro and the Cuban people and state.”
The Palestinian National Council, the Palestinian Democratic Union and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also released statements mourning the passing of the revolutionary icon.
There will be those who think that such harassment of Robinson is correct -- that in order to keep the peace it is necessary to keep an eye on anybody who may have any effect to the contrary. But if that is true, it is curious that such measures were not routinely used on Anjem Choudary in all his years living freely in the community. It would be interesting to know if there are any records of Choudary and his family being harassed by police or removed from establishments while the hate-preacher was on whatever down-time he used to have. Or whether the British police ever routinely raid and search the houses of radical Islamists in the hope of finding errors in their VAT returns and the like.Hezbollah Leader: Donald Trump Is ‘Racist’
But of course the very comparison is unfair and in many ways lazy, because Tommy Robinson has not been -- as Choudary was -- at the heart of a nexus of terrorists and terrorist-supporters going back years. He has not been on friendly terms with numerous people who have beheaded civilians and carried out suicide bombings. There are not any occasions, of which the author is aware, on which Robinson has called for violence or the breaking of the law in the name of his political views. But in the eyes of the law, much of the media and a certain number of people in the country Robinson is in an exceptionally unfortunate position. He is not a radical Islamist and nor is he from any discernible minority. He is a white working-class man who, it appears, can thus not only be harassed by certain authorities with impunity, but can find few if any defenders of his rights among the vast panoply of people in our societies who are only too keen to defend the rights of Islamists.
Civil liberties groups such as "Liberty'" which are so stringent in protecting the rights of Islamist groups such as "Cage," are silent on the case of Tommy Robinson. To consider why this is so is to see to the heart of a problem that Britain has been going through in recent years and which seems destined to continue for many years to come.
The number 2 leader of Shiite Iran narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah, echoing other jihadist groups, has denounced President-elect Donald Trump as “racist.”Watchdog: Spike in Antisemitic Incidents Across US Campuses Since Presidential Election Raises Questions About Motivation
In an interview with Iran’s state-run Tasnim News Agency, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s second-in-command, noted that the protests against Trump show the United States in a “real crisis.”
“The demonstrations will change equations in the U.S., and the new president might withdraw from implementation of some of his decisions,” he added.
The leader of Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, argued that Trump’s plans for the United States would spell trouble for everyone.
Trump has vowed to take a stronger stance against Hezbollah’s benefactor Iran and Islamic terrorist organizations.
Qassem suggested that whoever becomes president in Iran, the Islamic Republic will continue to provide funding to the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The United States has officially designated the Shiite group a terrorist organization.
The head of a campus watchdog group told The Algemeiner that the spike in antisemitism at universities across the US since the November 8 presidential election raises questions about its source and motivation.Ukraine synagogue desecrated with ‘death to Jews’ graffiti
“We don’t know where a vast majority of these incidents are coming from,” AMCHA Initiative co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said. “They may be coming from neo-Nazis, who view comparing President-elect Donald Trump to the Adolf Hitler as the highest praise, or from those who are so anti-Trump that they equate him with the Nazi leader.”
Either way, she said, “as a Jew, you know it’s not coming from a good place, whether it emanates from the Right or the Left.” She added that though, for the most part, Jewish students have not been specifically targeted, “Understandably, the swastika is alarming and elicits fear and disgust among them.”
She also praised university administrators for taking the phenomenon seriously.
Swarthmore officials, for example, vowed to “banish these acts of hatred from our campus” and do “everything in our power to identify the perpetrators.” At Keene, administrators said they would “exhaust all avenues” to track down perpetrators. And New York University is working in tandem with police to investigate its own latest incident.
Unidentified individuals wrote “death to the Jews” on the main synagogue of a city in Ukraine that earlier this month saw the rededication of another Jewish house of worship.Dutch publisher’s contract with Hezbollah fan causes author walkout
The hateful graffiti was discovered last week on the façade of the Central Synagogue in Chernivtsi, a city located 255 miles southwest of Kiev, a leader of the local Jewish community said.
Earlier this month, hundreds of Orthodox Jews convened at the Chernivtsi district of Sadhora of for the rededication of a synagogue that was built in the 19th century by followers of the influential Hasidic rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhyn. It had fallen into disrepair decades ago.
“It’s a shame to admit that when the country is dealing with war, instead of uniting society, some provocateurs are trying to sow ethnic hatred,” Ilya Hoach, leader of the local Jewish charity Miriam, wrote on Facebook, along with photos of the vandalism. The perpetrators also drew a cross on the synagogue.
A Dutch publishing house that was founded by anti-Nazi fighters lost some of its best-known authors following its contract with a Hezbollah supporter who has accused Israel of genocide.Norway church denounces Luther’s anti-Jewish writings
Leon de Winter, a Dutch-Jewish writer who is one of the Netherlands’ best-known novelists, said he joined the walkout by three other writers from De Bezige Bij last week, partly because the company was “lacking a leader” but also over its publication of the book “Plea for Radicalization” by Dyab Abou Jahjah — a Lebanon-born activist from Belgium who has called for violent attacks on Israeli Jews.
De Winter said he considered Abou Jahjah an anti-Semite, an accusation rejected by Abou Jahjah — who last year called Antwerp’s mayor “a Zionist cocksucker” on Twitter, and who founded a Muslim European group which published on its website a picture of Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler as well as a caricature suggesting that Jews invented the Holocaust.
De Winters told JTA on Thursday that his leaving De Bezige Bij after 30 years “is very painful” because of the company’s wartime history and its record of supporting its authors. “But when you add the worldview of a person like Abou Jahjah, which is incompatible with mine, when my publisher tries to hide these differences or perhaps prefers Abou Jahjah, then I have to go look for a new publisher,” he said.
Norway’s state Lutheran Church has condemned the anti-Jewish legacy of Martin Luther, the 16th century German theologian who started the Protestant Reformation.Report: India Inks $1.4 Billion Deal for Acquisition of Israeli Radar Systems and Drones
In a statement issued Friday ahead of next year’s 500-year anniversary of the Reformation, the Church of Norway’s General Synod said some of Luther’s writings were later used in anti-Semitic propaganda, including in Nazi Germany.
Noting that such propaganda was also spread in Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II, the synod said that “in the Reformation anniversary year of 2017, we as a church must clearly distance ourselves from the anti-Judaism that Luther left behind.”
India signed a $1.4 billion contract with Israel Aerospace Industries earlier this month for the acquisition of two airborne early warning and control radar systems and ten unmanned aerial vehicles, Air&Cosmos International reported this week.Hundreds of Students, Faculty at Prestigious Israeli University Wow Social Media With Special-Effects ‘Mannequin Challenge’ Video
The deal was said to have been inked during Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s recent six-day visit to India.
An Indian Air Force official quoted in the report said a pair of EL/W-2090 AEW&C systems — with a combined value of $1 billion — would be delivered to India within two to three years.
Furthermore, according to the report, the Indian military is set to receive ten armed Heron TP UAVs — worth a total of $400 million — within three years.
Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1992 establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and India. The two countries currently enjoy a burgeoning relationship, particularly in the defense field.
Hundreds of students and faculty members from one of Israel’s most prestigious universities took local social media by storm this week when they posed together for the “Mannequin Challenge.”
Computer science students and professors at the Technion-The Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa wowed viewers with a creative and professionally shot two-minute clip, featuring special effects accompanying the unofficial Mannequin Challenge anthem, “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd.
The Mannequin Challenge — a trend started by students in Jacksonville, Florida last month — is a play on the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” created to raise awareness for the campaign to cure ALS. It involves groups of people freezing in place in various positions and photographing the scene.
On Wednesday, ahead of the Presidential Medal of Freedom award ceremony at the White House, a group of honorees — among them Ellen DeGeneres, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, Diana Ross, Rita Wilson, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Frank Gehry — stopped to video themselves taking the challenge.